Photo/IllutrationStudents from Taiwan and the Philippines put on kimono before a Coming of Age ceremony at a municipal center in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward on Jan. 13. (Masataka Yamaura)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Taiwanese Chen Mu-fan had heard of Coming of Age Day before coming to Japan and was pleasantly surprised to learn she could participate in this year's festivities as she had turned 20.

“I didn’t know non-Japanese people can attend the ceremony, so I’m glad,” the Rikkyo University student said, smiling.

Chen chose a red long-sleeved kimono because she was told that she looks good in the color at a place where she works part time, and "the color is bright and pleasant.”

Chen attended Tokyo’s Toshima Ward's first kimono dress-up event on Jan. 13 for foreign residents who turn 20 during this fiscal year.

The event was held to coincide with a ceremony hosted by the ward, which has many young foreign residents, to celebrate Coming of Age Day.

More than 10 men and women who signed up in advance to participate in the event dressed in long-sleeved kimono and traditional Japanese "haori" coats and "hakama" pleated skirts. They donned that attire with the help of members of a nonprofit organization that promotes international cultural exchanges.

Among 3,122 residents who turn 20 in the ward during this fiscal year ending in March, 1,236 are non-Japanese, accounting for about 40 percent of the total number of new adults there.

To enable participants to attend the Coming of Age ceremony held in the afternoon that day, the dress-up event was held in the morning at a municipal center adjacent to a venue for the ceremony.

Chen Wilmer Mathe Lee, 19, a student from the Philippines, put on a haori and hakama for the first time.

“This is such a beautiful kimono," he said. "It’s wonderful.”

At a booth where event participants could have their favorite words written on a folding fan or other items in brushstrokes, he chose one kanji character that means “dream.”

Vistro Janine Isabel Luna, 20, a fellow student from the Philippines, said she wanted her family back home to see pictures of her in traditional Japanese dress.

“This sash is nice,” she said.